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These Vegan Caramel Apples are the ultimate fall dessert to enjoy with friends and family. They’re dipped in our sweet, buttery vegan caramel and then rolled in crushed peanuts for the perfect finishing touch. All you need is 6 simple ingredients!
Caramel apples were a classic Halloween treat growing up, so it’s about time we add our own vegan-friendly version to the blog. If you’re throwing a Halloween party and are looking for more recipes to add to your spread, you can’t go wrong with Apple Monster Mouths, Halloween Edible Eyeballs, and homemade vegan candy bars like Take 5 Bars, Vegan Snickers Bars, and Vegan Mars Bars.
Table of Contents
Is caramel vegan?
Traditional caramel recipes are typically not vegan because they are often made with butter and heavy cream, both of which are derived from dairy. Luckily, making your own vegan at home with a few simple swaps is not only easy, but just as good. The distinction between the two is so small in fact, chances are your guests won’t notice the difference!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Granny smith apples: We find the combination of tart, granny smith apples, and the sweet vegan caramel sauce to be the best balance of flavor. However, any apples will do when making vegan caramel apples so use your favorite or what you already have.
- Brown sugar: The molasses in brown sugar gives this vegan caramel sauce a deep, rich color and hints of toffee and caramel. For best results, opt for dark brown sugar but light brown sugar will also work!
- Light corn syrup: Adding an additional sugar like light corn syrup prevents the sugar from crystallizing and keeps the vegan caramel smooth and silky.
- Vegan butter: Vegan butter enhances the flavor and texture by adding both fat and a bit of saltiness. If necessary, opt for using coconut oil.
- Coconut milk: Coconut milk is the perfect vegan substitute for heavy cream and adds saturated fat to the vegan caramel sauce, making it rich and creamy.
- Vanilla extract: Optional, but highly recommended for the best flavored caramel. Either pure or imitation vanilla extract will work well.
- Salt: A sprinkle of salt helps balance the sweetness in the caramel. If using coconut oil, you may want to use a bit more than the recommended ½ teaspoon to replace the saltiness in vegan butter.
- Chopped peanuts: An absolute classic topping to coat vegan caramel apples in. Feel free to use all chopped peanuts or a variety of different toppings. Check out our list of ideas below!
Additional topping ideas
- Mini chocolate chips
- Chopped pecans or almonds
- Dairy-free M&Ms
- Shredded coconut
- Crushed Oreos
- Crushed chocolate crunch bars
- Almond Butter Granola
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper or silicone baking mat
- Popsicle sticks or Cake pop sticks
- Small saucepan
- Silicone spatula
- Candy thermometer
How to Make Vegan Caramel Apples
- Prep the apples. Insert the popsicle sticks into the core of each washed apple. Place the apples in the fridge while you make the caramel.
- Make the caramel. In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the brown sugar, corn syrup, vegan butter, and coconut milk until the butter has melted. Once the mixture is homogeneous, stop stirring and slowly bring it to a boil.
- Bring the caramel sauce to 240 F. Attach a candy thermometer to your pot and continue cooking until it reaches 240 F (the soft-ball stage). This should take about 15 minutes.
- Cool the caramel. Remove the vegan caramel from the heat and immediately stir in the vanilla extract and sea salt. Set aside for 7-8 minutes or until the caramel is thick enough to coat the apples.
- Dip the apples. Once the caramel is thick enough, remove the apples from the fridge and dip the apples one by one into the caramel. Allow any excess caramel to drip off, then either place the vegan caramel apples on the parchment paper or immediately roll them in your desired toppings.
- Set the apples. Allow the caramel apples to set at room temperature until the caramel is completely set, about 30 minutes.
Yes, caramel apples dipped in crushed peanuts are 100% gluten-free. If you are gluten intolerant or serving gluten-free guests, avoid toppings that contain wheat, like crushed Oreos or vegan graham crackers.
These vegan caramel apples can technically be frozen, but we wouldn’t recommend it. Fresh, whole apples have a high water content, and freezing them would greatly change their texture and consistency.
Definitely, although it is best to prepare these apples as close to serving as possible, they can be made a day or two in advance and stored in the fridge.
- Scrub the apples. Most store-bought apples are coated in a thin layer of wax to improve their appearance and preserve freshness. This will inhibit the caramel from sticking to the apples, so it is important to wash the apples thoroughly. Note that washing for too long in hot water may discolor the apples but will not affect the taste of your vegan caramel apples. You can dip the apples entirely in caramel if you want to hide discoloration.
- Use a candy thermometer. Without one, it is difficult to tell if the caramel has reached the correct temperature. If the caramel is not hot enough, it will not thicken up and won’t stick to the apples. If the caramel is too hot, it will become too thick and hard, making it difficult to dip the apples into.
Enjoy vegan caramel apples immediately, or store the apples in the fridge for up to 1 week. To prevent sticking, place them in a Tupperware lined with parchment paper.